Gelede mask - ROM2008_9801_39


Gelede mask

Maker: Unidentified Yoruba maker
Medium:Carved painted wood
Geography: Republic of Benin
Date: early 20th century, collected before 1920
22.2 × 35.6 × 29.2 cm
Object number: 924.9.16
Credit Line: M.A. Leblond Collection of African carvings
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionGelede spectacles are colorful displays that occur annually when the first rains fall or in times of communal distress. Gelede masquerades represent a visible, artistic expression of Yoruba belief in the extraordinary power of women, referred to as “our mothers.” The mothers’ power can either be beneficent or destructive – they can bring health, wealth and fertility to the land and its people or they can bring disaster. The creative costumes displayed in these performances make reference to different aspects of the community and promote harmony. Anti-social behaviors are subjected to public ridicule. Although always performed by men, Gelede masquerades represent both male and female principles. The gender attributes may be shown in the headdress or emphasized in other elements of the costume. Traditionally Gelede masquerades perform in identical pairs that amplify the aesthetic and sensory power of the performance.
Global Africa
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